Home Cyberpsychology & Technology How Hackers Are Stealing Your Medical Data Through the NHS

How Hackers Are Stealing Your Medical Data Through the NHS

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As technology evolves, so do the methods employed by hackers to exploit it. The latest threat in cybersecurity is the theft of biometric data through the NHS, a scenario with far-reaching implications for individuals and institutions alike. Thomas Minarik, a cybersecurity specialist at Apostille London,  also reveals the common overlooked scams that look just like a missed appointment letter or text from the NHS.

The value of biometric data

Biometric data is more significant than one might think. This data, which includes fingerprints, facial recognition, and iris scans, is considered highly secure and is used in various applications, from unlocking smartphones to verifying identities for banking transactions. However, the same qualities that make biometric data secure also make it highly valuable to hackers. Unlike passwords, biometric data cannot be changed once it’s compromised, putting individuals at risk of losing thousands to scammers in seconds.

How hackers target the NHS

The NHS, like many other health services worldwide, has increasingly integrated biometric systems for patient identification and to ensure the security of patient data. However, these systems are not impervious to attacks. Here’s how hackers and cybercriminals target and steal biometric data:

Algorithm vulnerabilities

Biometric systems are not foolproof. Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in the algorithms used for facial recognition and other biometric measures. These algorithms are not perfect and can sometimes be tricked by advanced techniques such as deep fakes.

Phishing attacks and social engineering

Phishing attacks and immersive social engineering techniques are used by hackers to gain access to NHS IT systems and access biometric data. These methods have become increasingly sophisticated, making them difficult to detect.

Database breaches

Hackers can also target biometric databases. Once they gain access to a biometric database, they can download and sell the data on the dark web or use it to impersonate individuals, gaining access to accounts and draining bank balances within seconds.

The consequences of biometric data theft

The implications of biometric data theft are dire and far-reaching. Here’s how it can affect individuals:

Financial losses

With access to biometric data, hackers can bypass password-protected security measures and gain access to financial accounts. Using stolen fingerprints or facial recognition data, they can authenticate themselves and drain thousands of pounds from bank accounts in seconds.

Identity theft

The theft of biometric data can lead to personal and financial crisis. Hackers can open new accounts, apply for loans, and commit other forms of identity fraud, leading to a prolonged and stressful ordeal for the victims.

Reputation damage

The loss of biometric data can also damage an individual’s reputation. Unauthorised access to personal and sensitive information can lead to misuse, resulting in personal and professional harm that may be difficult to repair.

How to protect yourself

Despite the threat, there are steps that can be taken to protect biometric data and bank accounts from hackers. These tips take only seconds and can significantly enhance your security:

Use multi-factor authentication

Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all accounts. MFA requires more than just a password to log in, adding an extra layer of security by requiring an additional factor such as a code sent to a phone or a biometric identifier.

Regularly update software

Ensure that biometric systems and all related software are regularly updated to patch any vulnerabilities. Software updates often include security patches that protect against the latest threats. While software updates can be frustrating, the pros far outweigh the cons, as they close security gaps that hackers could exploit.

Be cautious when sharing personal information

Avoid giving out personal data over the phone or online unless you are sure of the source. Hackers often use common scams, such as sending fake missed appointment notifications that appear to be from the NHS. These messages claim that you missed an appointment and need to reschedule, directing you to a fake NHS website to enter personal and biometric information. Exercise caution when sharing sensitive data to prevent hackers from gaining the information they need to launch an attack.

Thomas Minarik, a cybersecurity specialist at Apostille London, says: “The theft of biometric data through the NHS is a serious and emerging threat in the world of cybersecurity. By understanding the methods employed by hackers and taking proactive steps to protect data, the risks can be mitigated, safeguarding personal and financial security. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and prioritise biometric security. Simple actions taken in seconds can save you from significant losses and headaches in the future.”

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